“Well, life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community” – from “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.

“He says a million things without saying a word…I have never heard a more eloquent silence” – from “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson.

“And just like that, the groundwork was laid not only for slavery to be justified but for it to be justified for a long, long time…” – from “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Each of these quotes were plucked from books of especial renown. They hold a place as one of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020. Still, as noted on the American Library Association’s (ALA) website the list is “only a snapshot of book challenges.”

As defined by the ALA, “A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group” (2021). A banned book is a one that is actually removed from the shelf due to a challenge. During 2020 the Office of Intellectual Freedom tracked over 156 challenges to books, materials, and services with 273 challenged or banned books.

The theme of Banned Books Week 2021 is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” Author of two books on this year’s Top Ten and Honorary Chair, Jason Reynolds explains, “Books can be the tethers that connect human beings” and “any time we eliminate or wall off some of those narratives, then we are not getting a whole view of the world in which we live” (Banned Books Week, 2021).

During National Banned Banned Books week authors, librarians, educators and readers celebrate our freedom to read! To join fun and learn more about banned books, drop by the Teen Department during library hours Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. We plan on making buttons featuring quotes, artwork and facts from books that make you think. The program is free and open to all ages.